Schenectady High School baseball coach John Isabella had a bad feeling Monday as he watched his pitchers give Albany extra at-bats.
His concern was warranted, as Albany took advantage of extra chances to come away with a 7-5 Big 10 win at the Central Park “B” diamond.
Cody Gozalkowski and Javar Tillman combined to walk eight, and Tillman hit another batter.
Albany scored all of its runs in the final two innings, with the final two walks turning into runs in a three-run seventh.
The Patriots answered with two in the home seventh, and left the bases loaded before Albany senior Justin Holmberg got the final out.
“We’re not playing very good baseball the last two games. We’re giving up too many walks,” said Isabella, whose team beat Troy, 3-2, Friday in Troy. “We’re putting too many guys on base, and they took advantage of it.”
Holmberg and Schenectady starter Cole Gozalkowski were locked in a scoreless game when Isabella took his starter out after seeing him issue his fourth walk.
Tillman walked the second batter he saw, but got out of a bases-loaded jam.
“Cole gutted it out. He didn’t have it,” said Isabella. “I was hoping I could get more out of him, but it wasn’t going to work.
“Javar has been doing a nice job out of the bullpen for us. So, I gave it a shot.”
Schenectady made some plays on defense — in particular catches by outfielders Joe Zielinski and Giuseppe Carberg — to keep Albany from getting anything going,
Holmberg would have been perfect the first time through the Patriots’ lineup, had No. 9 hitter Kyle Mohr not reached base on a catcher’s interference call.
Schenectady took the lead in the fifth when Justin Parsons beat out an infield hit, was balked to second and scored when Holmberg threw away Zielinski’s sacrifice bunt.
Isabella opted to keep playing small ball after Zielinski got to second on the play. Mohr moved the right fielder to third with a sacrifice, but Zielinski was caught on an attempted suicide squeeze with Nick Patierne up.
It was a run the Patriots could have used, as Albany’s luck at the plate started to change.
“We were hitting some balls hard early on, and didn’t have anything to show for it,” said Falcons coach Garett Baron. “I told them to just stay with the approach, keep having good at bats.”
The approach paid off with six hits and four runs in the sixth inning. Catcher Collin Raimo dumped a run-scoring single into short left field to tie the game, the first of five consecutive Albany hits that included RBI singles by No. 9 hitter Conor Foley, leadoff man Malcolm Porterfield and Mark Morelli.
All of the hits were ground balls that found an open space in the Schenectady infield.
“That one inning, we had two outs and just kept rolling,” said Baron. “We kept putting balls in play, and sometimes the ball finds a hole. Credit to the guys for staying with it.”
“That’s what kind of hitters they are,” said Isabella. “They swung the bat and put the ball in play.”
Schenectady got two runs back in the home sixth, as Tillman drove in a run with a triple — one of his three hits — and scored on Jeremy Kent’s ground out.
Albany put up three more in the seventh after Tillman loaded the bases on two walks and a hit batter.
Schenectady rallied in the seventh, scoring two runs with the help of two Albany errors, but left the bases loaded.
“We’ve done a nice job coming back like that,” said Isabella, whose team handed LaSalle its first league loss last week. “The problem is when we let them get free runs. That’s the bottom line.”
Holmberg finished with nine strikeouts and walked only one.
“He battled through some tough plays and a couple of errors in the last inning. But he did a heck of a job,” said Baron, whose team went to 5-5 in the Big 10.
Albany 000 004 3 — 7 8 4
Schenectady 000 012 2 — 5 8 1
Holmberg and Raimo; Gozalkowski, Tillman (5) and Patierne.